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K8 billion needed for cholera fight

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Wycliffe Chimwendo

The Ministry of Water and Sanitation has disclosed that it needs $8 million (approximately K8 billion) to mount an immediate challenge against cholera.

The ministry also disclosed Tuesday that 13,000 toilets and 1,262 boreholes are needed in schools across the country as an emergency response to the outbreak.

Water and Sanitation Minister Abida Mia disclosed this at a press conference in Lilongwe Tuesday.

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Other ministers present at the briefing included Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda for Health, Agnes NyaLonje for Education, Timothy Mtambo for Civic Education and Vera Kamtukule for Labour.

The ministers were justifying the decision by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid and Cholera to suspend the opening of schools in Blantyre and Lilongwe cities due to a cholera outbreak.

Mia said the ministry has managed to source only $2.9 million from the donor community for cholera response.

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Mia said, in terms of a long-term solution to the problem, the ministry requires about $20.3 million to improve the water supply and safety situation by, among other things, extending water pipes and drilling boreholes in areas that do not have any.

Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe was yet to comment on whether Treasury would release the funds.

Meanwhile, the ministries Health, Education and Water and Sanitation have disclosed that officials will inspect schools in the two cities in the next 10 days.

“We want to use these 10 working days to do certain things, especially in our schools. We have to look at the issues of latrines in all the facilities within the schools,” Kandodo Chiponda said.

“There are some schools which really need water. We, as a taskforce, have put together technical people from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, and the Ministry of Education to make assessments,” she added.

On her part, NyaLonje said there is a need to drill 1,262 boreholes in schools and that the toilets will have to be constructed in phases.

“What we need is the money and, in the first instance, we have already provided a budget to the taskforce,” NyaLonje said.

Meanwhile, Independent Schools Association of Malawi President Wycliffe Chimwendo has asked the government to open schools in Blantyre and Lilongwe, arguing that two weeks is a long time to keep children at home.

As of Monday, the country registered 409 cases of cholera with 25 new deaths and a total of 620 accumulative deaths so far.

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